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Research at St Andrews

Bettina M Bildhauer


Bettina M Bildhauer
Postal address:
School of Modern Languages
Buchanan Building, Union St
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 463663

Research overview

My research focuses on medieval German literature in its global and current context. My approach combines recent theoretical ideas with close analysis of texts, films and images. Underlying much of my research is an interest in the limits of the human, both the physical limits of individual human beings and of what counts as human. My current research projects deal with menstruation, materiality and the Global Middle Ages. For my research to date, I was awarded a Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award in 2020 and a Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2009.

Menstruation: I am the lead investigator for the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s research network Ending Period Poverty (2020/21), examining the historical roots of Scotland's current pioneering role in providing free period products. My monograph Medieval Blood (2006, paperback 2009) is concerned with blood as a crucial part of conceptualizations of the body, gender and subjectivity, as a marker of where bodies and humans end. It is particularly interested in the connections between medical, religious and literary ideas about blood, and in the anxieties expressed through the medieval obsession with menstruation.   

Material things: My monograph Medieval Things (2020) asks how medieval creatives imagined materiality and alternatives to the subject/object binary. It interprets medieval German narratives from the perspective not of the human characters, but of the material things that also shape the plot and that exert non-human kinds of agency. It argues that the Anthropocene has a lot to learn from pre-Enlightenment conceptions of human subjects and material objects. A short video about this project is here: This work was supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.

Global Middle Ages: Medieval literature circulated in a pre-national, global, multilingual context. I am researching one such global narrative, the story collection The Seven Sages of Rome that was copied in hundreds of manuscripts and print editions in 20 languages from the 12th to the 17th centuries. It tells a medieval #metoo story of a false accusation of rape.  

Medievalism: The premodern period – the Middle Ages – are crucial for defining what it is to be modern. I have widely investigated medievalism, that is, the influence of the medieval on our self-perceptions, and the persistence of medieval culture, art and thought, for example, in The Middle Ages in the Modern World (co-edited with Chris Jones, 2017) Medieval Film (co-edited with Anke Bernau, 2009) and Filming the Middle Ages (2011). This work was supported by a Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers.

Monstrosity: My co-edited collection The Monstrous Middle Ages (with Robert Mills, 2006/2017) asks how humans are distinguished from other entities, especially monsters and things. The chapter I contribute (reprinted 2019) deals with anti-Semitic discourse on monsters.

My wikipedia page:

I have supervised PhD students in film, German and medieval studies and welcome applications from prospective PhD students in related fields.

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